Sunday, 24 February 2008

Lib Dem MPs fail Cornwall

The Draft Cornwall (Structural Change) Order 2008 to set up a single unitary authority was debated in the House of Commons (Delegated Legislation Committee) on 7th February.

All five of Cornwall’s MPs were present and four spoke in favour of the Order – even after the Government’s Local Government Minister John Healey MP clarified that “no specific additional powers are attached to this restructuring to establish a single unitary council.”

Andrew George meanwhile used the debate to describe the Order as “technically, legally and politically defective” and a botched job. He also accused the Minister of producing a ‘minimalist’ regulation which “failed to meet the ambitions of the people of Cornwall.” However, the two MPs representing Cornish constituencies on the Delegated Legislation Committee (Julia Goldsworthy and Dan Rogerson) both voted for the proposal following the debate.

The Order actually passed through the House of Commons on 18th February by 287 votes to 116. Andrew George voted against the order but the other MPs did not vote.

Throughout the debate around Cornwall County Council's bid for a unitary authority, the Liberal Democrat leadership of the Council and Cornwall’s five MPs made claim after claim that a single unitary authority would lead to the devolution.

They even continued with this misinformation after a leading government civil servant visited Cornwall and rubbished their statements that a unitary authority for Cornwall would be given greater powers.

And now we have ridiculous situation of four Cornish MPs continuing to speak in favour of the proposals during a House of Commons debate - even after the Local Government Minister confirmed that the creation of a single unitary authority for Cornwall was about local government reform and nothing more – while Andrew George tries desperately to distance himself from his colleagues.

It is about time that Cornwall’s Liberal Democrats came clean and admitted that they have let Cornwall down by abandoning their commitment to a Cornish Assembly and that their half-baked proposals for a unitary authority will not lead to the devolution of greater powers.

I think that supporters of the campaign for a Cornish Assembly will be greatly interested in the following time-line of promises and pledges.

1 comment:

Rob Hopcott said...

May I say how nice it is to find a local government councillor who is willing to engage in a dialogue with the public through a blog.

I've been trying to get the councillors over at West Somerset interested in e-democracy now for years with no success.

Once elected, it seems representatives want to represent and talking to the people can wait until the next election.

If more MPs had blogs, when they reneged on their election promises, their comments section would soon make the opinions of their constituents felt and rightly so.

Many of the problems rural communities have are not easy to solve. Utilising the 'collective intelligence' of all 'locals' may at least create the possibility of finding innovative and real regeneration solutions.

Good luck with your campaign to bring democracy closer to the people :-)